4.1.11 Weekend Update: Desperados
Call me an April fool, but I see snow out my window. Big, wet flakes coming down, forcing me to dismantle my weekend plans of frolicking amongst the daffodils. If, like me, you intend instead to light a fire and put your slippered feet up, I have a couple of suggestions for hours of decadent viewing pleasure. First, in case you haven't found out, I need to tell you that Netflix now has streaming movies you can download instantly to your TV or laptop. Now this is some technology I can get behind. Already a big fan of iTunes instant downloads, I may never need to leave the house again. (Joking.) At any rate, between these two applications, you now have instant access to some fantastic international productions you may have missed in the theatre and which won't likely make it to TV. The two I'm recommending are Carlos, a 5 1/2-hour mini series co-written and directed by Olivier Assayas, and Mesrine (Killer Instinct & Public Enemy #1), directed by Jean-François Richet in 2 parts totaling almost 5 hours.
Both are about twisted, violent, womanizing, self-aggrandizing criminals on a trajectory toward sad, desperate flameouts. Along the way they kill lots of people, rob lots of banks and fuck lots of hot women. Carlos is played by the extraordinary Edgar Ramirez, a Venezuelan like the man he portrays, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, an international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. Jacques Mesrine is played by the always fascinating Vincent Cassel (you may have seen him as the brutal ballet master in Black Swan), who digs deep to portray this bank-robbing, prison-breaking maniac. The main difference between Carlos and Mesrine is that the former hides behind the righteous rhetoric of the revolutionary, while the latter is just out to break a whole bunch of laws and have some laughs.Both actors are incredibly sexy and compelling, but as time goes on they become pudgy and dissolute, having drunk way too much of their own Koolaid. The performances are equally brilliant, although in the end I think Carlos is the better film. If you're not familiar with Cassel's work (beyond his role as husband of Italian bombshell Monica Bellucci), I suggest you also check out his breakthrough role in La Haine, in which he is mesmerizing as a working-class tough.